Thursday, April 2, 2009

"One Category at a Time" - Best Cinematography

How frustrating it is to see the Academy choose the wrong film to win this category year-in and year-out: Pan's Labyrinth, There Will Be Blood, and Slumdog Millionaire are all deserving nominees, but for them to win over Children of Men, The Assassination of Jesse James, and The Dark Knight respectively is starting to become a bit annoying. Still, there's always hope that this year they'll get it right. Some possible contenders:

Rob Marshall's Nine will be at the top of many tech predictions, and it's likely that Dion Bebe (who was nominated for Marshall's Chicago and won for Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha) could earn a third nomination for Marshall's third feature. The project features lots of opportunity for dark, dreamy shots, so keep your eyes on this one.

Speaking of dark, there are a few noirish entries this year that could tickle the cinematographers' fancy. The one I'm most looking forward to is Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, featuring photography from the wonderful Robert Richardson, who won for JFK and for Scorsese's The Aviator not long ago. Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces could also garner some attention for Rodrigo Prieto (nominated for Brokeback Mountain), who will also have Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu's Biutiful in contention this year.

And what of those Academy-friendly biopics? Dante Spinotti (who should have won in 1997 for L.A. Confidential) will be in the thick of things for Michael Mann's Public Enemies. He was last nominated for Mann's The Insider, and from the trailer it seems like Public Enemies will have a similar look. Tom Stern has just come off his first career nomination (a pleasant surprise on nomination morning) for Changeling, his sixth collaboration with Clint Eastwood. If Oscar goes for his Nelson Mandela picture, Stern could be along for the ride. Ditto for Stuart Dryburgh (nominated for The Piano over 15 years ago) who will lens Amelia.

And of course, there always seems to be room for a darkhorse candidate in the final five. Some possibilities this year include Eric Gautier for Taking Woodstock (should have been nominated for Into the Wild), Lance Acord for Where the Wild Things Are, Javier Aguirresarobe for The Road, Andrew Lesnie for The Lovely Bones, and (the one I'm taking a chance on) Emmanuel Lubezki for Terrence Malick's Tree of Life. Lubezki was nominated for Malick's The New World not long ago, and should have won for Children of Men. The DPs like him, and sometimes that counts for a lot.

Predicted Five
Amelia
Nine
Public Enemies
Shutter Island
Tree of Life

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